One of the things we love about our life on Wild Horses is how we are living with the environment. We are not 100% off grid or low impact, but we are far closer than we have ever been. And that feels pretty great.
Very aligned with this thinking is our new energy supply system aboard Wild Horses. It is definitely the most important project we have undertaken this season as it allows us to live at anchor independently and comfortably, using only the sun to power all the systems and stuff on the boat.
We have always been solar junkies and have installed arrays on every boat we have owned. The lure of solar is understandable - the boat uses energy to power the fridge, freezer, water pumps, lights, TV etc. and, without a solar array set up, every day your battery power shrinks. Depending on how much battery storage you have, it may only take a few days before you are forced to plug into shore power…or live in the dark with warm food…not fun. With a solar array, from sun rise to sun set, you are reclaiming some of that lost power. And it doesn’t take full sun to get the benefit. We have topped up our batteries on cloudy days!
This year, we have upped our solar game by tripling our capacity and we have also added a good-sized bank of lithium batteries. That means that more of the energy we harness from the sun can be stored and used. With our old lead-acid batteries (i.e. what you have in your car), you can only use 50% of the stored power before irreversible battery damage occurs. Lithium lets us use 80% of the power. And it lasts longer. And it doesn’t contain toxic metals like lead. The environment wins again.
We can safely say that the sun runs everything but the engine on Wild Horses. That morning coffee? Hot water courtesy of the sun. Dinner on the stove? The sun fed our induction cooktop. A cold drink on a hot day? Thank you, Mr. Sunshine! No shore power, no propane. Net zero.
How else do we try to do good for the environment? Well, there is that sailing thing. But truthfully, powering the boat by wind is not always an option. We sail when we can, but if we need to motor, well diesel gets used. It is a little better than a gas-powered car or boat but we acknowledge that there is a bit of a footprint. We also produce very little garbage and we are able to keep our recycling habit going thanks to weekly trips to the Kingston Area Recycling Centre. The place looks a bit like the movie "Wall-E" but their recycling set up is easy, free and accessible. It may not be as easy once we get to the Caribbean but we will keep doing whatever we can. Certainly, keeping the environment top of mind is easier on a sailboat. Mother Nature reminds us often that we have to work with her and not against her.
Just an update on our VHF radio: The technician arrived and assessed that the radio had, in fact, died. This is the thing with a 2002 boat. With several years behind her, the electronics and gear original to Wild Horses are starting to age out. There is no “forever” zone. In addition to our fixed VHF radio, over the last six years we have had to call time of death and replace: our charger/inverter, cockpit canvas and enclosure, anchor windlass, and our fixed navigation system. And we are in no way delusional in thinking that the replace cycle is over. The dream is just that it doesn’t all happen at once! So far, so good 😊.
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Victoria is a hiker, dog-lover, blog writer and planner extraordinaire. Oh, yeah and she is kind of fond of living on a boat.